Lucknow: Hospital owner fighting FIR over O2 SOS held for assault

Akhilesh Pandey’s wife Preeti, the managing director of the hospital, called the arrest a bid to intimidate Pandey as he had gone to the Allahabad High Court against a May 5 FIR by the Lucknow administration against him.

THE owner of Lucknow-based Sun Hospital, Akhilesh Pandey, was arrested on Monday night after an employee of ABP Ganga channel accused him of assault.

Pandey’s wife Preeti, the managing director of the hospital, called the arrest a bid to intimidate Pandey as he had gone to the Allahabad High Court against a May 5 FIR by the Lucknow administration against him, accusing him of “spreading rumours over oxygen shortage at the hospital”. On May 11, the High Court had stayed any coercive action against Pandey.

His lawyer Abhinav Nath Tripathi claimed it was ABP Ganga employee Nitin Mishra who had misbehaved with Pandey, after demanding advertisements from him. He also accused police of seizing CCTV footage of the incident, and deleting it. “They took the footage saying it was needed for the probe. Now they have deleted the footage of the altercation,” Tripathi said.

In his complaint against Pandey, filed on Monday, Mishra accused him of illegally confining him on the hospital premises and beating him up.

Police said Pandey faces at least 10 more cases — besides the May 5 FIR over allegedly spreading rumours, and Monday’s charges — under IPC Sections covering assault, criminal intimidation, fraud, extortion, and causing death by negligence. At least three are from this Sunday alone, while the remaining seven are from before the Lucknow administration filed the FIR against him on May 5.

“We are receiving repeated complaints against him for the last few days for overcharging and assault by families of patients,” said SHO, Vibhuti Khand Police Station, Chandra Shekhar Singh.

On Mishra’s case, he said, “Pandey has been accused of looting, illegally confining the news channel representative and extortion.” He has been booked under IPC Sections 392 (robbery), 342 (wrongful confinement), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace), and 506 (criminal intimidation).

The Manager for Uttar Pradesh for ABP News Marketing Department Bhuppal Singh Bora said Mishra is a marketing executive with their regional channel ABP Ganga. “He had gone for official work to Sun Hospital and there was an argument over terms of payment. My colleague was accused of indulging in fraud. After the argument, Akhilesh Pandey and some of his men beat up my colleague after locking him in a room for two hours. All of it is recorded in CCTV camera,” Bora said.

Pandey’s lawyer said he would be writing to the Allahabad High Court Chief Justice seeking relief and bail. “Pandey has been arrested as the administration is angry with him. Some person from a TV channel came asking for advertisements. He pulled my client by the collar and beat him up. In self-defence, my client pushed him and slapped him a few times, and now police have arrested him. It is all part of a conspiracy,” Tripathi said. He also asked why police had not taken note of a complaint submitted by Pandey against Mishra.

Lucknow Police Commissioner D K Thakur denied the arrest was vindictive. “We have no issue with Pandey,” said Thakur.

Asked why an FIR was not lodged on Pandey’s complaint, the Commissioner said, “It is not necessary that an FIR is lodged on each complaint. We probe who is the aggressor, whose fault it is. If Pandey feels the local police station is not doing a fair probe, he can approach higher officers.”

Thakur said he had no knowledge regarding the CCTV footage being deleted; “Pandey can lodge a complaint, we will investigate it.”

On May 3, Sun Hospital had put up a notice asking relatives to take away patients admitted with it, saying it was facing an oxygen shortage. The next day, hearing a PIL on the Covid situation in UP, the High Court had referred to instances of oxygen shortage at several hospitals, including Sun Hospital, calling deaths due to the same a “genocide”. On May 5, the Lucknow administration filed an FIR against Pandey, accusing him of spreading rumours.

It also said a probe conducted by SDM (Sadar) Praful Tripathi had found that Sun Hospital had “sufficient” oxygen on May 3, the day it put up the notice.

On May 3, the 45-bed Sun Hospital, as per its admission, had 38 Covid patients, all on oxygen support.

The hospital currently has four Covid patients, and an official said there have been no oxygen issues recently.

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